In COVID-19 Vaccination, Israel and Bahrain are leading in terms of the percentage of population that has already received an initial vaccine shot. Some countries are expected to require visiting travelers to have been vaccinated for COVID-19, demonstrated with a “vaccine passport” of some type, such as CommonPass or Linux, which has partnered with the COVID-19 Credentials Initiative. Similarly, for some travelers, countries who have vaccinated most of their population will be more attractive as destinations.
Israel: Nearly 12% of Population Has Received the First Vaccination Shot
Israel has several advantages: a relatively small country of about 9 million, which managed to secure a large enough supply of the Pfizer vaccine to vaccinate 1 million people this early. But other strengths include the centralization of Israel's healthcare system, with just four main government subsidized HMOs. Everyone over 18 must be registered with one of the four, making it easier to communicate about and organize vaccine logistics. Israel has been preparing vaccine distribution for two months, and now has over 150 vaccine clinics, in addition to vaccination vans that travel to more remote areas. About 150,000 people are being vaccinated daily.
Israel has also been able to repackage the vaccine for distribution to more remote areas; it claims to be the first country to have found a way to safely do this with the Pfizer vaccine, which Pfizer has warned can deteriorate if subjected to too much movement.
Bahrain: Over 3% of Population Vaccinated
Bahrain, with just 1.5 million people, has given 3.5% of its population an initial COVID-19 vaccine shot.
UK, US at <2%
Although the UK was the first country to start vaccinating, on December 8, 2020, during its first twenty days, an average of only 47,226 people were vaccinated daily, less than a third of Israel's daily total.
The U.S. has also fallen down in terms of the numbers of vaccinated; just 2.8 million people received their first dose of the vaccine by the end of 2020, as opposed to the 20 million that Operation Warp Speed had wanted to vaccinate by the end of the year, although some of that was a problem of data lag. At time of writing, 4.2 million are said to have received their first dose. States are being allocated vaccine based on their population, but the last mile logistics of distributing vaccine doses will continue to prove challenging, given the fragmented U.S. healthcare system, especially once the vaccine distribution moves past hospital workers and nursing home residents.
What About New Zealand?
While New Zealand is one of our clients' favorite destinations, it won't be welcoming U.S. visitors anytime soon. Its vaccine program will vaccinate essential workers during the first half of 2021, and the general population will only be vaccinated in the second half of 2021, during which time its assumed the country's borders will remain closed.
Bhutan is another bucket list destination for many clients, and the good news there is that, as a small nation of fewer than 800,000 people, it expects to vaccinated the majority of its population during summer 2021, which would position it well for potential reopening in fall 2021 (no exact reopening date has been announced).
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